Reviewed by: Dave Murray
The Brothers Strause
What's it about
Some ordinary (albeit rich) LA folks wake up to any early bright blue sunrise, only to witness huge freaking alien ships sucking people up into the sky by the thousands. Hunted by creepy derivative aliens of all shapes and sizes, our unlikeable heroes are sucked up, crushed or munched one by one, until one random dude among millions of captured humans just happens to have enough immunity to their hypnotic powers to become - an alien superhero!
Is it good movie?
Skyline is one of those polarizing sci-fi movies, you either grooved to it or thought it was trash. I enjoyed the hell out of it, despite its many flaws and its few groan worthy moments. I'd been burned and a little pissed off by the last directorial offering from The Brother Strause (AVP: Requiem), but their effects work on other films was very well done, and I was eager to see what they would do with an original concept and property. The resulting movie is entertaining and pretty freaking gorgeous, while at the same time doing nothing with character development and mostly playing it safe narrative wise, outside of a few surprises.
Shot initially for about $500,000 using the condo building of one of the directors as the main location, the movie has a tight and confined feel to it, setting up the classic Night of the Living Dead vibe right from the start. We get a little teaser of alien abduction action at the start, but then backtrack 15 hours in the story to give us some boring tripe about the unlikeable characters that was unneeded and slowed the flick to a snail crawl. However, once the shit started going down and the effects kicked in, the movie became a fast and ferocious eye candy fest that used every dime of the $10 million effects budget. That money is there on the screen, even though the stellar effects did look a little derivative. The aliens reminded me of The Matrix and ID4, and this bugged me a bit, but they did some awesome things with their aliens so all was forgiven. I like the cat and mouse tension of the aliens stalking the folks in the condo from the skies outside; it made for some tense moments, as well as giving us some more terrible dialogue and more than a few "stupid characters doing stupid shit" moments.
Now, I would have grooved to this movie if the characters had been better developed and even just a little bit appealing or sympathetic. As they stand, I didn't give a rat's watertight arsehole about any of them (except maybe for the poor pretty assistant, who gets dead with a tremendous and unexpectedly awesome splat). Even Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson failed to illicit any sympathy or interest from me, their relationship ringing false and her following the lead of the building manager in making the dumbass move of disagreeing with the guy who is clearly the hero of the flick, never mind the fact that he's the father of her child! All of the other characters were either repellent or just simply there for the dying, so for the entire movie I grooved to watching them all get sucked up or munched on by the aliens. I also dug how we're never given a silly expository sequence about the alien's motivations, which in my opinion would have cheapened the movie to the point of even being called crap.
But what we do get is the ending, which is the major thing that has divided audiences so clearly. The movie seemingly ends with a white light, and all is well. In fact, the last abduction would have made a beautiful and poetic ending to the movie. But then we are taken inside the alien ship, and treated to a sequence that many have found tacked on and ridiculous, and still other have felt ruined the movie. What it does is take a standard by the numbers alien invasion flick and bring it solidly into comic book superhero territory, making the entire movie a setup, or rather an origin story for a wicked alien superhero, who will no doubt be the main attraction in a sequel. Personally, I loved the ending, because it made the movie more than it was originally, and much like Ridley Scott's Robin Hood origin story, it had me wanting to see the movie that would come next. The final shot was just killer, and that vibe was continued in the credits with digital stills of the alien hero kicking tentacle ass all over the ship (except that you can see where the effects budget ran out, because there are only four or five stills before we get just straight credits). Shoot me in the face for saying so, but I seriously dug the ending, and for me it redeemed what for me was an otherwise generic alien flick. So truth be told, I'm looking forward to Skyline 2! With the talent these guys show in the effects department, it'll look just as snazzy on Blu-Ray as this one did. As long as they work on some better characters, it'll be awesome.
Video / Audio
Video: 2.40:1 HD Widescreen in both 1080p and 1080i. This sucker looks awesome in HD, and for such an effects driven film, Blu-Ray is most definitely worth it.
Audio: English DTS-HD master audio in 5.1, French DTS Surround 5.1, and Spanish DVS Dolby Digital 2.0, with subs in English, Spanish and French.
For a Blu-Ray release, the special features aren't that exciting. We get two Audio Commentaries, one from the directors and another from the cast and crew. The Strause brothers were more entertaining, and I enjoyed listening to them break down the movie, despite my general dislike for their previous work and my desire to beat on any duo that are pretentious enough to refer to themselves as "The Brothers...Anything".
There are also a whole bunch of Deleted, Alternate and Extended Scenes, that weren't really needed in the final film, and don;t very much bear watching. They don;t offer anything new except maybe a little character development, but since I doesn't make you want to sympathize or identify with them any more than you already fail to do, I'd skip them. Seriously, is this the new Blu-Ray trend, to slap on every damn piece of film cut from the feature release? I hope not.
There are some cool Pre-Visualization sequences, breaking down such actions setups as the pool chase scene. Pretty cool, but only if you're an effects junkie.
Finally, through D-Box and BD Live 2.0, you get access to trailers, tv spots, marketing materials and user guides. This is helpful if you're gonna use the new pocketBlu app for smartphones and touchpads, which allows you to control the Blu-ray movie and bonus content from your mobile device.
A big scale epic movie told from a very small scale perspective, Skyline wasn't the best alien invasion flick I've seen, but it was entertaining and quite surprising. I found myself jazzed by the ending, and wanting to see where they will go with a sequel. Unlikeable characters and derivative alien effects (even though they were awesome) prevented this one from being pure awesome, and some ho-hum writing kept her back on the track by a few lengths, but in the end it was an okay start to what appears to be a series in the making, at least with one more movie on the way. Nice and unexpected twist and genre switch with the awesome ending, but like the movie itself, your mileage may vary. And seriously, stop calling it an indie movie. $500,000 is a hell of a lot of coin, and the directors had tonnes of resources at their fingertips, more than most indie film makers would consider murdering for, even before getting the $10 million for effects that went into this movie.